Declawing Cats, Banned in Many Countries, Is Thriving in the United States

So your cat just slashed your prized Australian aborigine drum set. Or maybe that cute as a button kitten you got just a few weeks ago took out the wall paper in your den. No problem: just have your cat declawed and all that goes away. You'll never have to worry about home destruction or battling with a cat to get its nails trimmed.

Except that having a cat declawed isn't just like a handy dandy permanent nail trim. You are actually removing part of its foot - which means immediate pain and may lead to later anti-social behavior such as increased biting (a cat's got to do what a cat's got to do) and avoidance of the litter box. So the argument that hey, this is better to do than abandoning a troublesome cat in the street doesn't always hold water. Just check out the animal shelters where declawed cats have been dumped.

And even the vets who do the procedure say that if it's done on all four of the cat's feet, that kitty cannot go outside. It could not defend itself.

In humans it would be the equivalent of removing a finger down to the last knuckle.

While most veterinarians across the United States continue to perform this lucrative procedure - average cost is between $400 and $800 - that's not so in the rest of the world.

As this week's cover feature "The Cruelest Cut" by Alan Pendergast (with contributions from Craig Malisow and Molly Dunn) explains "Most pet-friendly nations already outlaw onychectomy. The United Kingdom's Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons deems the procedure "not acceptable" under most circumstances, and laws in most European countries explicitly prohibit it. In Israel, declawing a cat can result in a fine of 75,000 shekels -- more than $20,000. Authorities in Brazil, Japan, Turkey and Australia also frown on the practice."

We talk to some vets who over time have come to the decision not to perform the surgery - which is still taught at nearly all the veterinary colleges across America, including at Texas A&M (although students who object do not have to perform it).

Anyhow, it's all worth reading about before you make the decision to take Fluffy for a life-altering irrevocable trip to the vets.

Because a cat may have nine lives, but it only gets one shot at its toes. They don't grow back.

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